Vista, Windows 7, Ubuntu 9.04 and 9.10 boot speed comparison


The Great Boot Race

Hot on the heels of the final release of the Karmic Koala, we've put together a video montage of 64-bit versions of Microsoft's Vista and Windows 7 operating systems booting alongside Canonical's Ubuntu 9.04 and 9.10. Watch all four at once and see which one wins!

Each operating system has been freshly installed and features exactly the same hardware configuration. Auto-login is enabled, and each will launch Firefox which will then proceed to load our homepage.

We've taken an in-depth look at Ubuntu 9.10 in our latest podcast, and we've discussed Windows versus Linux several times before.

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Your comments

Nothing controversial about that

All seems pretty clear to me. Interestingly, it confirms an article I had read which suggested 7 is slower to boot than Vista, after this had been tested, in contrast to all the other reports saying how much quicker it is, but which provided no actual test results.

<Waits for the controversy to explode>

But the real question is...

After installing some software and using for a while, how do they each hold up? I've seen some Windows machines that get completely clogged and take 10 minutes plus to boot.


I guess you're using a rotational hard drive rather than SSD?

If so, out of interest, could you try the following on Ubuntu 9.10 and see what kind of change it makes:

sudo apt-add-repository ppa:ubuntu-boot/ppa
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get dist-upgrade

This should install a new kernel image and replace sreadahead with ureadahead. Give it a reboot to reprofile, then the next reboot may be faster.

I'd like to know the results (


that should be add-apt-repository ;-)

Can I just get to the desktop?

Yes, Karmic does boot a little faster than jaunty, but it has a lot happening on the screen. Can I just get to my login box without all the glowing and fancy effects?


I'm sure everyone will see the difference now.

But they'd say, "why didn't you try it with IE?"
They won't accept IE is broken.

Remove the effects

@Fluke Airwalker: Sure, they could just show you a black screen while waiting for the kernal to load, but it wouldn't make things any faster (or the difference would be microseconds). Why not show something mildly pretty during the wait if there's no cost to performance?

shiny is my precious so BACK

shiny is my precious so BACK OFF my precious!!!

USB no less

Running Karmic from a USB with persistent storage. Boots fine, no problems, just a bit slow due to USB format. Using the brilliant Simplemail add-on to firefox so I can avoid Evolution, which I hate.
Its very............. pretty :)

Don't remove, simplify...

@ Evan Nelson: I guess I should have been more specific. I think the initial white on black logo is fine, but that whole mess with the spotlight and the bar and the names and back to the spotlight before finally getting to the desktop is a bit much. It looks gaudy to me.

Was the web page local?

Just wondering if you introduced network variables. Maybe better to show the opening of a local PDF in Adobe Reader or have Firefox open a local text file.

Ooohh... why didn't you

Ooohh... why didn't you include a Mac too so I can finally rub it in the face of all sorts of people?

@Anonymous Penguin "Ooohh... why didn't you"

it's a little more tricky to ensure a stable osx experience on the exact same hardware, hardly a fair comparison.

At work, where I have no other choice than Windows XP

It takes so long to get to a usable desktop that I come in, turn the computer on, goto the bathroom, go down 28 stories in the elevator, wait in line at dunkin donuts, get coffee and come back. Most of the time it's finished by then, but not always. I've timed it at close to 19 minutes before

Just basic Windows?

I assume neither of the two Microsoft systems were running anti-virus systems which would not be the case in the normal world and would have slowed them down even more.

How many infections did they have at the end of the test? :)

Chrome an option?

I wonder what would happen if they changed the browser to chrome?


Why wasn't the hardware of the computer used in the test listed? Please list it.

Boot speed

I could care less what boot speed is. If you are wooried about those few seconds, get a life. It is how a distro works that matters. Flash sucks. There never used to be that problem on earlier linux distros. Working Video and voice synthesis are more important.


I use both Ubuntu for development and Vista -> Windows 7 for gaming,

Windows 7 boot HEAPS faster then Vista!!!!
I have seen this in my own upgrades and on friends computers.
Something is obviously very wrong here

First boot vs 10th boot

What happens after a few reboots?

@ "I could care less what boot speed is"

it matters because thats engine start up time. energy waisted. time waisted. battery life collapsing... etc etc

And Snow Leopard???

I think you are missing the winner :-)


Chrome load much faster than Firefox. I guess here they tested with Firefox as it was default browser in Ubuntu.

I hate to admit it but the average user couldn't care less about

The average user couldn't care less about an extra 30 seconds on their boot time. All other things considered it is a meaningless thing to have a leg up on.

We can't use itunes, and no matter what people try to claim, none of the other tools are decent replacements. We can't run most games. Many of the other programs are either buggy or missing features or have horrible interfaces.

I love Linux and don't want to use anything else and think any amount of time or money is wasted on windows, but we can't get so high and mighty that we lose our objective viewpoint.

Linux/Gnome/KDE has come a long ways, but we are way behind on user programs, and most people don't care about the difference.

Double standard

Why doesn't anyone bitch about the fact that Ubuntu comes with Fire Fox standard? Why not offer a choice?

Windows comes with IE only standard, and every tard on the planet complains about that. But when any of the myriad of "distro's" of Linux that a user may "throw" on their flash drive or boot from a "sort of" live disc, or perhaps install, will have FF as the default installed browser. Isn't that odd for a community that champions FREEdom and chO(S)ice?

What about Opera? What about Chrome? Is there some backdoor deal with the FF team?


Hardware/Windows 7 boot time.

What hardware was used to run this boot speed test? I have Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit with Office 2007, Kaspersky antivirus and various other software installed on a Dell XPS M1530 laptop 2.4Ghz, 4GB RAM, 250GB SATA HDD. My boot time is around 38 to 40 with IE8 loaded up. Oh...and auto login is not enabled.

Thank goodness I can kiss Windows XP and Vista goodbye.
As for Ubuntu - er no thanks :)

@Anonymous Winbot

The reason why it comes standard with FF is because it is the best free browser available. Many distro's do come with a choice of browsers. Gnome comes with epiphany and KDE comes with konqueror standard and almost every distro comes with Gnome or KDE standard. Tiny core comes with Opera standard, and there is no Chrome for Linux yet.

You are obviously just a troll, and an ignorant one at that.

@Andrew Cole

There actually is a developer's version of Chrome for Linux that has worked relatively well for me, in my limited use of it.

There is still work to be done

Boot time is not the ultimate decider!

I have been a full time Linux user for about three years now(First with Suse then Ubuntu) and if there is one thing I wish could be fixed is hibernation. It's still flaky at best! It takes forever to resume.

Also, Ubuntu, Novel etc, needs to talk to the likes of Adobe to make their apps native to Linux. Am sure if it is done, there will be massive adoption of Linux in the work place and else where.

@anonymous winbot double standard

The reason firefox+[random distro] is not an issue is because the company making the distro and the company making the browser are 2 different companies. In the IE+windows case it's the same company.

This is what "abuse of dominant position" means, this is why MS has to offer a choice, and no G/L distro has to.

@ peope saying users don't care 'bout boot times

You're all completely wrong.

1st Because people don't think what you think they think,

2nd because they say they don't care, but they will act as if it mattered (they will say they don't care, but they will thrash the slower one as fast as they can). And…

3rd: Sooooo many years complaining about linux boot times and now they don't care?. Well, it's done: Foxtrot-uck you. Time to fix another thing, move along, nothing to see here.


Can we get the specs on this system?
I can surely believe this scenario if specs
were a single threaded (or a 1 core machine).
Win 7 have been optimised for multithreading,
thus adding bottlenecks for single threated
CPU. (Anyway, who would want to run it on a single core)

Ubuntu is faster booting than windows any day by my books!

I run a dual boot Vista and Jaunty 9.04 on this machine and with all my startups on Ubuntu I am up and ready to rock and roll in right about 63 seconds.

When I boot windows, well lets just say by the time all the startup stuff loads it is close to 4 minutes. I know I can go get another cup of coffee in the time it takes vista to boot. Especially if I haven't been in it in a while it does an update check which is another slow down factor. Then talk about letting it update taking precious resources from the computer. Ubuntu updates check and then prompts you and never have I had a system slowdown with updates.

The wife's machine is a XP and Hardy dual boot and even the old hardy boots way faster! Not to mention XP takes about 6 to 7 minutes to fully load for her!



shouldn't that be

"Hot on the heels"?

My startup tests

On my Dell Latitude E5500 I tested with two virtual machines and clean installs.

32 Seconds until login dialog
+8 Seconds until fully up
= 40 Seconds

Windows 7:
45 Seconds until login dialog
+6 Seconds until something like up (15 seconds until most HD activity finished).
= 51 Seconds

However: On the host (Dell Latitude E5500 real machine) I upgraded from 9.04 to 9.10 which leaded to slower startup times:
9.04: Start 00:43, Login 00:45 = 88 Seconds
9.10: Start 01:10, Login 00:50 = 2 Minutes
But I have a bunch of services and applications installed + panels full of icons.

@ Bobleroy

"Win 7 have been optimised for multithreading,
thus adding bottlenecks for single threated"

So its the whole "buy new hardware to use Vista" all over again?

Win 7 vs Win Vista (64-bit both)

That is what I've got using Desktop machine...
MB Gigabyte GA-M52L-S3;
CPU: AMD Athlon x2 Dual Core 4600+ 2.40 GHz;
RAM: 4Gb KingMax 800 MHz;
Video: PCE GeForce 8600 GTS;

Win 7 Ultimate loads and starts more fast than Vista Ultimate!!!
Both OS have latest updates from MS.

If I'll have some free time, then I'll install Ubuntu 9.10 on the same machine, update it and test its boot/load speed. Then I'll upload my test-results here...

7 slower than Vista? Bah....

I have a very fast machine and W7 64 bit boots in about 22 seconds. Vista 64, on the exact same machine with the same configuration, boots in more than a minute.


and unwind...use Windows 7 :)

Please don't be so offended by the above comment. It was kinda surprising and yet excellent seeing a Windows 7 advert at the top of this webpage as well.

Should have put Fedora 11 or 12 in the mix

Fedora 11 & 12 have goals of < 20 seconds (which seems pretty accurate from my experience).

About Windows 7

Hello there.

I'm kind of new to Linux, and to this magazine as well, and while I use Linux Mint (7) from time to time for learning, I must say my Windows 7, both x86 and now x64, start up much faster than in your video.

It must be something with your hardware configuration. Maybe it's made to start slower with less than 1 GB of RAM or something like that? I don't know, like I said, I'm totally new to this kind of material.

Thanks for sharing your tests!

All hail Linux!

superficial testing

While it's nice to see that an OS boots really fast. I Don't believe it shows the real functionality of the OS.
I'm an Linux user of more than 10years. Love it use it at the office etc.. etc..etc.. However, windows 7 ultimate features have taken quite a step forward. e.g. Ubuntu for the past few years would download and install drivers according to what you wanted. Windows never really succeeded with this. However Windows 7 Ultimate does this quite well.
While still and advocate for Ubuntu. Don't just a system by it's boot speed. Judge it for daily tasks and functionality.
Can the browsers open any website ( activeX etc.. )
can it OpenOffice Open any type of formatted document without loosing the formats? When working at home it's great but sometimes the cross platform issues really suck. Be Objective, not an Idealist when testing.

Ehm, activex, doc, and rest

Ehm, activex, doc, and rest of Microsoft formats are property of them, so it's Microsoft who doesn't give retrocompatibility with other systems. You should be informed before talking about something, ;)

Not too impressive. Work to do still

Since I saw Linux booting in 5 seconds (with a moblin optimized image), any boot time above 10s seems ages for me.

It is a bit sad that after so many work done on boot times in Linux, the difference is still so small as compared to Win7 that there are arguments about it. (Even if Win would degrade boot times due normal usage)

Boot times do matter, specially on netbooks that you switch on just "for a quick web query" and don't want them to sleep/hibernate so that your battery drains.

We should aim for Linux to boot in less than 10s on SSDs and less than 20s for HDs.

Ah, and other features do matter as well... but this aritcle was about boot times anyway.

Qauntity vs. quality?

It takes "me" 2 whole blissful hours to boot in the mornings which indicates, to me, that quantity is no substitute for quality especially when one can have both.

On the rare occasions when I need to switch off/reboot my Linux boxes, the actual boot times are a minor issue to me when compared to their 'set & forget' stability, but the really funny thing is... I couldn't remember what Windows looked like, so "thanks for the mammary..."

And Snow Leopard???

We have a weiner.

Compare with XP ?

Really nice video !

But my XP (32 bits OS, sorry) starting faster than the 4 OS mentionned here.
Is a Linux website really honest to do such a test ?

to Ehm, activex, doc, and rest

Informed? Im not Informed?
I've been in this business 20years, have set up more computer systems, heterogenous, linux, windows, etc.. Systems need to work together. You can't crawl in a hole and decide since it's a website or a doc with activeX or MS format, that you won't go there. Sometimes you have no choice. I run a computer department for a large firm, we are based on Opensource. Incompatibility is the responsibility of all parties involved. Yeah I agree MS has done everything possible to make it impossible to work with them. Doesn't mean you are exempt. I'm simply stating that judging boot speed has nothing to do with whether an OS is good or not.
As a basic home user to go to his banks website. Does it open in firefox? He could care less whether it's windows or Linux. It wants to see the balance. Interoperability is the key to success. btw MAC suffers from the same thing. I'm an UBUNTU user to the end. But that doesn't mean I don't have problems occassionally with cross platform stuff.

Boot Time Does Matter

I'd say your average user does care about time wasted at the computer, and boot time is important. Having just moved my old (P3 650) laptop that I use for web surfing from Ubuntu 9.04 to 9.10, I definitely feel that it's booting up slower now since the upgrade. I haven't done an empirical test, unfortunately. That includes the time from the moment I hit the on button to when Firefox has loaded up on the screen. Wish I had timed it before the upgrade so I could provide some firm numbers.

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